Jeff Kagan: ACES Sports
American’s fascination with Futbol (Soccer) will be temporary. Soccer does not provide the type of sports entertainment Americans have grown to love and appreciate. We need much more than soccer can provide. As an American, I like excitement in my sports. Soccer just does not provide enough action for my liking. In some popular American sports, like football, the rules are constantly being tweaked in an attempt to increase scoring and excitement.
I grew up in North Jersey playing just about every organized sport I could. My parents were very supportive of my athletic endeavors. I grew up playing Football, Basketball and Baseball, the traditional American sports of my generation. I did however, play some other sports and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I played some Hockey, learned Karate, and I was a pretty good Skate Boarder in my time. And yes, I played a couple of years of organized Soccer growing up. This was the 1970’s and professional Soccer in Metropolitan NY was the darling sport for a moment in time. The NY Cosmos played in Giant’s Stadium to near sellout crowds after they signed the best soccer player in the world, Pele (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QEmnP48PEc). I gave soccer a shot, but it just didn’t do it for me. I respect the people that play soccer. They are truly amazing, skilled athletes. I had plenty of friends who played soccer in High School and a couple of them actually got to play in college on full scholarships at big time Universities.
Worldwide, soccer holds the title of the most popular sport. Internationally, Soccer players are the highest paid athletes. That brings us to the World Cup, currently taking place in Brazil (just in case you have been living under a rock the last few weeks). The world is going crazy for the World Cup, America included. Every 4 years we become Soccer fans. Mike D’Amico aka Teddy Goalsevelt who dresses up like Teddy Roosevelt (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z4Hzo9UmrQ&feature=youtu.be) and rallies the crowd with the Will Farrell at a local bar is a prime example.
But let’s face it; Americans are not yet true Soccer Fans. We want to share in the excitement of the event. We love the idea of the World Cup, just like we love to watch the Olympics every 4 years. It’s another reason the go to the local bar or have a World Cup party, and we all love a good party. Often, many Americans will cheer for the country of their ancestors. Their families might have been in America for over 100 years, but “Let’s Go Italy?”
Time keeping in Soccer is different as well. When the time on the scoreboard runs out, the game is over in most other sports, not in Soccer. They have extra time. Extra time is tacked on to the end of a game based on a running clock during the game and time wasted when the ball goes out of bounds. Most Americans have a hard time relating to extra time. Can’t they just stop the clock?
Do soccer players have super powers? Players regularly go down in agony. They look like they will be surely lost for the remainder of the game. Penalties are assessed against the offending player (Yellow Cards, Red Card, Credit Cards, what ever). But no, they are up and playing as if nothing happened in a very short time. Now I know where the Big Three from South Beach learned it (see 2014 NBA Playoffs).
When did the Number ZERO become NIL? The same people who say Nil when talking about a Soccer score will watch the Cowboy’s beat the Redskins 21-0. They will never refer to the score as twenty-one – NIL.
Soccer is growing in popularity in the US, fueled in part by the growth of the Hispanic population (2012 Census reported an increase up to 17%). America, as a new Nation over 200 years ago, wanted to create a life unique to itself. We created our own sports. Soccer morphed into Rugby in England and we took it one step further and created Football. We also invented Basketball. Native Americans in North America invented lacrosse, and it has been going through incredible growth over the last 15 years. As a melting pot of cultures, we will continue to evolve in multiple ways. Sports is just one of them.
But I say stop the madness! When will all this end? When will Americans stop the charade? We are not FUTBOL fans. We don’t go to pubs; we go to bars, just like we live in houses not flats. But rest assured, it will all end, or at least slow down, as soon as the World Cup is over. Soccer will regress back to its slow and steady growth. And NIL will go back to being ZERO, for now anyway.
What do you think about the future of soccer in America? Will the panic about football injuries continue to push children from football and into soccer (and other sports)? Leave your comments below.